Florence on 'Lungs' Part One
Fri 3 Jul, 2009
Dog Days Are Over
This is the second track I did where I felt I’d really found my sound. I recorded this with Isobel Summers who now plays keyboards in The Machine, in her tiny studio in Crystal Palace. The drums are me banging my hands really hard against the wall. The song was done over a month, because we only had nights to make music. I used to cycle up after art college – really tough, because it was all uphill! The title comes from that Ugo Rondine installation on the side of the South Bank, and it was rainbow letters that said ‘The dog days are over’. I’ve got this notebook where I write snippets of things, and the song was me flicking through, picking out phrases that I’d found and sticking them together over this song. A lot of people have said they think it’s about the Apocalypse. Or freedom. And someone said it was about the recession. But to me it just signifies being free, in that I’d made music in a way I’d never made it before.
And also made lyrics in a way that I’d typically never made them before. Usually I was sort of writing stories, but this time it really was about the song, the vocal line and just picking stuff out – random things I’d seen or heard that made up a whole.
It changed when we started playing it live, and that’s how we rerecorded it with James. But I had to bring in all the parts from Issa’s studio. We recorded a lot of the album on a shit Yamaha keyboard that cost less than £100, and we managed to keep it on most of the tracks. I’m proud of that!
Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
I’d written all these dark songs, and the label suggested we should have something that was a bit more upbeat. In the process of trying to do that, I realised maybe I was sacrificing something. So I had a really upbeat piano and drums, but the lyrics that came out were, ‘This is the gift/It comes with a price/ Who is the lamb/And who is the knife? The rabbit heart is a reference to fear – I’m so afraid of what’s about to happen. Of being in the spotlight.
I’m Not Calling You A Liar
This was originally about two loves – how the ghost of your ex-love is always around when you start a new relationship. When your new boyfriend holds you, you kind of feel your ex-boyfriend’s arms. Those ghostly limbs. ‘I’m not calling you a liar’ was actually something a boyfriend said to me once. So it’s about the crossing over of two loves, of moving forward.
I was in a really intense emotional state for this one! I’d been so drunk and so badly behaved that I felt like a beast, I felt feral. I turned up to the studio wearing the same clothes from the night before and I was an emotional wreck. I was thinking about the extremes you go to when you’re in love, the way it takes over, and how that then turns into wanting to rip and tear.. Young love starts off so instant, but then you make mistakes, and it becomes sordid, sometimes. And dangerous. Then while we were in the studio, I got so over-involved with the idea of werewolves! I took this idea and ran with it, and all the ideas just came from Gothic horror: werewolves and wedding dresses, and licking beating hearts.. It was cool, because it got me out of my bad place, and into a creative place. When I was singing the refrain and doing the piano part, I suddenly realised, ‘At least something’s come out of this.’ It’s a release, for me.
Kiss With A Fist
I was 16 or 17 when I wrote this. I’d just fallen in love for the first time, and I’d also started hanging out with an older group of people, watching how their relationships worked. There was this one couple who were so cool, but so visceral and so intense. The guy never hit the girl, but I saw her lamp him a couple of times, and she’d always give as good as she got. But it wasn’t really the physical violence, it was more about the fact that their animal passion for each other was the thing that was attractive for them. It was how joyful destruction can be, and how alluring it is to be in a relationship that was so fiery. There was never a dull moment when they were around. I don’t know how they do it! I’m a conflict avoider. I think I write about such intense things because I’m actually really bad at expressing anger.
Click here for Part Two.
'Lungs' Standard Edition: AmazonPlayHMViTunes.
'Lungs Deluxe Edition: Amazon Play HMViTunes.
'Lungs' vinyl: Amazon.